The United Nations reports more than 1,000 deaths due to political violence in Iraq in May, the highest monthly total in years.

Civilians numbered among the vast majority of the casualties. Many were killed by bombings in Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods.

Figures released Saturday showed 1,045 civilians and security officers killed in May. The death toll in April was 712. Iraqi officials continue to fear the breakout of a civil war.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

BBC:

On Thursday, [U.N. envoy to Iraq, Martin] Kobler warned that “systemic violence is ready to explode at any moment if all Iraqi leaders do not engage immediately to pull the country out of this mayhem”.

Analysts say al-Qaeda and Sunni Islamist insurgents have been invigorated by the Sunni-led revolt in neighbouring Syria and by the worsening sectarian tensions in the country.

The BBC’s Rami Ruhayem, in Baghdad, says the violence has been linked to a stand-off between the Sunni minority against the Shia-dominated order installed following the US-led invasion 10 years ago.

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